UNC clinches ACC Coastal Division and spoils Beamer’s home finale in overtime

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It looked as though No. 17 North Carolina (10-1, 7-0 ACC) was well on its way to wrapping up the ACC Coastal Division in Blacksburg, but sometimes winning in Lane Stadium against the Virginia Tech Hokies (5-6, 4-3 ACC) is never as easy as it seems. The Tar Heels gave up two late fourth quarter touchdowns to the Hokies and would need to win it in overtime. Ryan Switzer caught an 18-yard touchdown from Marquise Williams on UNC’s possession of overtime to capture the win and the ACC Coastal Division championship.

Down 24-10 with just under five minutes to play, Virginia Tech quickly moved down the field after starting at their 37-yard line. Michael Brewer‘s 25-yard pass to Sam Rogers got the Hokies in UNC territory and a 26-yard pass to Isaiah Ford two plays later took them to the 11. Bucky Hodges would haul in an eight-yard pass on a fourth down from the eight-yard line for a touchdown to cut the UNC lead to one. UNC fumbled away the football on the ensuing drive, and Brewer again found Ford for a big play a few plays later. A short touchdown pass to Ford tied the game at 24-24 with 1:07 to play. The game would go to overtime, thanks in part to a bizarre timeout called by Larry Fedora on the UNC sideline.

North Carolina still has one more game to play before getting set to take on Clemson in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte in two weeks. UNC visits North Carolina State in Raleigh next week to conclude the regular season. North Carolina can keep some outside playoff hopes alive with a win next week.

The Tar Heels have never played for the ACC Championship. Since the championship game was introduced by the ACC in 2005, only Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Duke have represented the Coastal Division in the championship game. Virgina Tech was the last Coastal team to win the ACC when it topped Florida State in 2010. Coastal champs are 3-11 in the title game, with Clemson or Florida State winning each of the past four seasons (Florida State has won the last three).

Of course, the loss also carries a bit of an additional sour note for Virginia Tech. This was the last home game to be coached by longtime Hokies head coach Frank Beamer. Beamer announced his retirement that will be effective at the end of the season. Beamer’s Hokies now must win next week’s game against Virginia in order to keep Virginia Tech’s season going. Virginia Tech needs one more win to become bowl eligible this season. Beamer has taken Virginia Tech to the postseason every year since 1993.

Alabama and Clemson remain top two national title favorites according to Bovada

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Alabama and Clemson appear to be on a collision course for a third straight meeting in the College Football Playoff national championship, and the Crimson Tide and defending national champion Tigers remain the top two favorites to win the national championship this season, according to the latest updated odds from Bovada.

Alabama’s odds have moved to 19/10 after being 2/1 last week. Right behind Alabama is Clemson at 9/2 a week after having 11/2 odds. Despite having one loss on their record already, the Ohio State Buckeyes remain in the thick of the race as well with the third-best national title odds after four weeks of play. Ohio State is listed at 7/1 by Bovada, staying ahead of USC (15/2) and Oklahoma (8/1) despite a head-to-head loss to the Sooners in Columbus in Week 2.

Penn State comes in at 10/1, followed by Michigan at 12/1. Georgia is on the rise as well with 14/1 odds to stay ahead of Washington (16/1). The biggest drop of the week was by Oklahoma State, who fell from 9/1 to 20/1 after a home loss to TCU. The Horned Frogs jumped up from 75/1 to 33/1 this week.

Bovada also updated their Heisman Trophy odds, with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley moving to the top of the board.

Saquon Barkley ascends to top of Bovada’s Heisman Trophy board

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Coming off a monster performance against Iowa, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is now the new leader in the clubhouse for the Heisman Trophy, according to Bovada at least.

Bovada’s weekly updated Heisman odds put Barkley atop the Heisman board with 7/4 odds. He moves ahead of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, USC quarterback Sam Darnold, and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville, and separates himself from Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Barkley has rushed for 518 yards with four rushing touchdowns in the first four weeks of the season. That alone would not be worthy of such high Heisman praise, of course, but Barkley has shown how good he is by contributing to the Penn State passing game. Barkley currently leads the Big Ten with 23 receptions and a conference-leading 335 receiving yards. Barkley has also added some yards on special teams returns, although he has not broken loose for a significant kickoff return just yet.

Barkley is not the only running back moving up Bovada’s board, however. Stanford running back Bryce Love went from 66/1 up to 33/1 following a big performance against UCLA. LOve is currently the nation’s leading rusher.

Two players were dropped from the Bovada board this week. Ohio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins went from having 25/1 odds last week to off the board this week. I’m not entirely sure why Dobbins fell off the map so quickly, but he’ll have a chance to pop back on the board in the coming weeks. LSU running back Derrius Guice also fell off the board this week after having 50/1 odds last week.

Rutgers loses CB Blessuan Austin to season-ending ACL injury

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Rutgers cornerback Blessuan Austin will miss the remainder of the 2017 season after suffering a season-ending ACL injury on the road at Nebraska this past weekend. Rutgers head coach Chris Ash confirmed the unfortunate news for the Scarlet Knights at a press conference Monday morning.

“As most of you know, Blessuan Austin came out of that game,” Ash said, per NJ.com. “It was confirmed yesterday with an MRI that he has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season.”

With Austin now gone for the rest of the season just as Big Ten play opened up, Rutgers will bump Damon Hayes into the spot as a starter in the secondary.

“He played in place of Blessuan and did some good things. He has to continue to improve and develop,” Ash explained. “But I really like Damon and excited for him to go out and have this opportunity and be a full-time starter.”

Rutgers is currently ranked fifth in the Big Ten in passing defense with an average of 179.5 passing yards allowed per game, with five touchdowns allowed and five interceptions. Austin, a junior, had recorded one of those interceptions.

Luke Del Rio back in the saddle as Florida’s starting QB

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Before the headlines in Gainesville took a rough turn for the worst off the field, Florida head coach Jim McElwain created some news with addressing the offense. This week, Luke Del Rio will be the starting quarterback for the Gators.

This comes as little surprise for a team that has been struggling on offense for the majority of the season. Despite a miracle finish against Tennessee two weeks ago, Feleipe Franks struggled on the road against Kentucky, forcing McElwain to make a switch to get Del Rio back in the fold on the field. As a result, whether coincidence or not, Del Rio led the Gators to avoid the school’s first loss to Kentucky in over three decades.

First up for Del Rio as the Florida starter will be Vanderbilt, who comes off a drubbing at the hands of Alabama. Before the Crimson Tide came to Nashville, the Commodores were hailed as having one of the top defenses in the SEC outside of Tuscaloosa. This will be no easy task for Del Rio and the Gators against Vanderbilt because they still do not have the kind of offense that can overpower their opponent the way Alabama can.

Florida has a long way to go, but we’ll see if Del Rio can keep any momentum on their side for more than one week.